Whither Catalonia?

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By Dan La Botz for The Bullet – The impact of the independence process on Spain as a whole is complex because, in the short term, the Spanish right uses it to cohere its social base and in the last weeks we are experiencing a shift toward the right in the Spanish political and social life. But at the same time, it is the principal threat to the political regime created in 1978.[1] If Catalonia became independent, it is unlikely that the political regime of 1978 could survive. Such a crisis could open the opportunity for change in the Spanish state as well. The strategic, decisive question is how to link the independence movement – without dissolving its demand, with a perspective of breaking with the 1978 regime within the state as a whole. This requires combining unilateral action from Catalonia with the struggle within the Spanish state as a whole in favor of a new majority politics of the left. But this center-periphery dialectic is complex and neither Catalan independence movement, nor the forces of the Spanish left such as Podemos know how to do it. DL: What is the social base of the independence movement? JMA: The independence movement is principally based in the middle class, public employees, and youth.

'Freedom For The Political Prisoners': Hundreds Of Thousands March In Barcelona

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By Staff of Common Dreams – “Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches,” The Independent reports. “Catalonia’s two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan ‘Freedom for the political prisoners,’ after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month.” The march on Saturday followed a series of related demonstrations in recent weeks. On October 16, “around 200,000 people (according to calculations by the municipal police) came out to protest the jailing of the heads of the pro-independence ANC and Òmnium associations, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart,” the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports. “On October 21, another protest calling for their release saw 450,000 people take to the streets of the Catalan capital.” In early October, the Spanish government mobilized a violent police force in hopes of quashing a regional independence referendum, but the movement for Catalan independence and subsequent actions by the Spanish central government in Madrid have left the wealthy region deeply divided. Those who were able to cast ballots last month overwhelmingly supported independence. Since regional leaders defied Madrid and declared independence in late October, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has imposed direct rule on the region.”Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches,” The Independent reports. “Catalonia’s two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan ‘Freedom for the political prisoners,’ after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month.” The march on Saturday followed a series of related demonstrations in recent weeks. On October 16, “around 200,000 people (according to calculations by the municipal police) came out to protest the jailing of the heads of the pro-independence ANC and Òmnium associations, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart,” the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports. “On October 21, another protest calling for their release saw 450,000 people take to the streets of the Catalan capital.” In early October, the Spanish government mobilized a violent police force in hopes of quashing a regional independence referendum, but the movement for Catalan independence and subsequent actions by the Spanish central government in Madrid have left the wealthy region deeply divided. Those who were able to cast ballots last month overwhelmingly supported independence. Since regional leaders defied Madrid and declared independence in late October, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has imposed direct rule on the region.

Exiled Officials Create “Legitimate Government” Of Catalonia

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By Staff of Catalan News – Carles Puigdemont and his four ministers in Brussels have established a “stable administrative structure” in exile. They claim to be the ‘legitimate government of Catalonia’ after being ousted by the Spanish executive during the last week of October. The five have published a letter where they say that a structure has been set up “in order to coordinate the activity of the government” and to denounce the “politicization of the Spanish justice system, its lack of impartiality and its will to persecute the ideas” on an international level. One of the first manifestations of this structure is a new Twitter account, @catalan_gov, which is the “official profile of the office of the legitimate government of Catalonia.” Call for citizens to ‘sustain democracy.’ In the letter, the pro-independence officials in Belgium also ask citizens to “sustain the democracy, which is now threatened by the coalition which enforced Article 155 (direct rule of Catalonia) together with the police and judicial violence and the far-right.” They claim that “the state has placed itself at the periphery of the central democratic European bloc” with its measures against Catalan self-rule. “It is a serious mistake to think that repression is the way to get Catalans to give up their legitimate wishes,” the letter also reads.

Where Catalonia’s Secession Movement Goes Now

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By Oscar Berglund for The Conversation – As tension increases in Catalonia, there have been calls for widespread civil disobedience against the Spanish government. Even the recent referendum itself, along with its 2014 precursor, have been described as acts of civil disobedience. This popularity of gathering en masse in disobedience to the central government has been inspired in large part by the anti-austerity efforts of one group: the Platform for the Mortgage-Affected, or PAH. The outgoing disobedient Catalan government is a peculiar mix of anti-austerity parties, which have supported the PAH’s fight for people’s housing rights, and the Catalan establishment party that has generally opposed it. The PAH was founded in Barcelona in 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crisis, which burst the Spanish housing bubble. It now has around 200 groups across Spain. Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau was the movement’s spokesperson before moving into institutional politics. The PAH is famous for its innovative protests, which it calls acts of civil disobedience. This includes physically stopping evictions, organizing sit-ins in banks and squats in empty buildings that belong to banks.

The Current Conflict In Spain Has A Lot To Do With Economic Failure

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By Mark Weisbrot for Counterpunch – As Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy threatens to take over the autonomous region of Catalonia, it is becoming clearer even to casual observers who the bad guys are in this conflict. Generally, when one side is peaceful and seeks dialogue, and the other is committed to resolving the disagreement through force, repression, and violence — well, you get the picture. The Spanish government’s argument that the October 1 referendum on independence was unconstitutional is not so determinative as they would like us to believe. As Vicente Navarro, who has written for many years on Spain’s incomplete transition to democracy, notes: the 1978 constitution was much more a product of the 36-year dictatorship than it was of the democracy that was struggling to be born. And Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) in particular has deep roots in political forces and people who were part of the Franco dictatorship. The anti-democratic character and fascist heritage of the PP government became glaringly evident when Rajoy sent thousands of troops into Catalonia in a failed attempt to stop people from voting. This was not, as he claimed, to enforce the law: the Spanish government could simply have allowed the vote and refused to recognize the result. Rather it was to crush the independence movement and the expression of their ideas by force

Ripples From Catalan Referendum Could Extend Beyond Spain

A man waves an estelada, or Catalonia independence flag, during a gathering at Plaza Catalonia in Barcelona on the day of the referendum. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

By Simon Tisdall for The Guardian – The Spanish government’s attempted suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum by brute force has raised urgent questions for fellow EU members about Spain’s adherence to democratic norms, 42 years after the death of the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, spoke for many in Europe when he tweeted: “Violence can never be the answer!” Madrid’s pugnacious stance, while widely condemned as a gross and shameful over-reaction, has nevertheless sent a problematic message to would-be secessionists everywhere. It is that peaceful campaigns in line with the UN charter’s universal right to self-determination, campaigns that eschew violence and rely on conventional political means, are ultimately doomed to fail. In other words, violence is the only answer. Sorry, Charles. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, did everything he could to derail a referendum that the courts had deemed illegal, but his pleas and threats were not persuasive. That is democracy. Rajoy’s subsequent choice to employ physical force to impose his will on civilians exercising a basic democratic right carried a chill echo of Spain’s past and a dire warning for the future. That is dictatorship. Surely no one believes the cause of Catalan independence will fade away after Sunday’s bloody confrontations that left hundreds injured.

Protest In Streets Of Barcelona As Spanish PM Moves To Dismiss Catalan Leaders

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By Patrick Grafton-Green for Evening Standrad – Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Barcelona as the Spanish Prime Minister moved to sack Catalan leaders following weeks of heightened tensions in the region. Using previously untapped constitutional powers, PM Mariano Rajoy wants the Spanish government to install its own people in their place and call a new local election. It follows the independence referendum that went ahead despite being banned by Spain’s Constitutional Court. Mr Rajoy took the unprecedented move after an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday, saying the central government needs to “restore order” in the face of a secession effort backed by the regional government. He is proposing that the powers of Catalan officials be taken over by central government ministers. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont swiftly dismissed this, describing it as the worst attack on Catalonia’s institutions since the Franco dictatorship.

Pro-Independence Grass-Root Leaders Sent To Prison On Sedition Charges

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By ACN for Catalan News – The leaders of two of the main pro-independence civil society organizations have been sent to prison without bail on sedition charges. A Spanish judge decided to imprison Jordi Sànchez, president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, for their role in the October 1 referendum. Both of them will already sleep in jail tonight. The same judge also decided to release without passport the chief of the Catalan police, Josep-Lluís Trapero, accused of not having done enough to stop voters from participating in the independence referendum. The initial investigation against Trapero, Sánchez and Cuixart focused on demonstrations on September 20 and 21, when fourteen high-ranking officials of the Catalan government were arrested and people protested massively, and peacefully, in the streets. But the case was extended to also include events during the October 1 referendum and the alleged “flagrant inaction” of Catalonia’s police corps, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to stop the vote. Sánchez and Cuixart lead two of the biggest pro-independence organizations in Catalonia, responsible for organizing the massive pro-Yes demonstrations of the last few years. The prosecutor argues that they mobilized people on referendum day, asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations, thus impeding police officers from closing them down.

Catalan Parliament To Declare Independence Following 'Ves' Victory

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By Jordi Bedmar for Catalan News.Catalan President Carles Puigdemont with the entire Catalan government, announced that “the right to be an independent state has been won.” He says the referendum will be communicated to the Catalan Parliament so that it can act according to the referendum legislation recently passed in the chamber, which states that independence will be unilaterally declared, should the “yes” vote win.

Despite Police Violence, Catalans Vote Today

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By Popular Resistance. Spain – Catalonians across the region in Spain today voted on a referendum for independence in the face of often severe police violence by the Spanish civil guard. The vote was held even though Spain’s Constitutional Court declared it illegal. Despite being evenly split on the issue of independence, 70 percent of Catalonians favored holding a vote on the referendum as an expression of their democratic rights. Catalonia is a region around Barcelona. It has a distinct language and culture. The region is wealthy overall and makes up one fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product. The campaign for independence has been underway for a number of years.

Catalonia: One Million Demonstrate In Barcelona For Self-Determination Referendum

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By Esquerra Revolucionària for Socialist Alternative – On the 11th September one million people spilled onto the streets of Barcelona shouting loud and clear their intention to vote during the 1st October referendum, making it clear that they were not going to let the ruling Partido Popular (People’s Party/PP) deny them this right. Yet again, as has happened on each Diada [‘National Day of Catalonia’] since 2012, the Catalan people have demanded their right to democratically decide what links they wish to maintain with the rest of the Spanish state, including their legitimate right to independence. Against this protest in support of the right to decide, which the Catalan people are overwhelmingly in favour of (as confirmed by all the polls) backed up by increasing support from the those who live in the Spanish state, as a whole, the PP government and the Spanish bourgeois are using repressive measures not seen since the Francoist dictatorship; police raids and continual harassment against the press; judicial intervention to prevent a political event from taking place in Madrid concerning the right of self-determination; news censorship preventing the Catalan TV channel 3 from showing content on the referendum. The offensive has taken unprecedented steps and not just against freedom of expression and association.

The Basques In Spain: Positive Peace?

A peace mural is painted near the road leading to Planadas, Colombia, where a peasant uprising in 1964 led to the birth of the FARC. | Photo: AFP

By Johan Galtung for TRANSCEND Media Service – Spain is in a process that will take some time, from “España: Una, Grande, Libre” to “España: Una Comunidad de naciones“—“Spain: One, Great, Free” to “Spain: A community of nations.” Could also be great and free, but not One; not Castillan, but also Catalan, Basque, Gallego, Andalucian, and the islands, Baleares, Canarias. ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna)–world famous for killing the successor to Franco, Carrero Blanco, in 1971 possibly shortening the dictatorship by a generation–disarmed, handing over its means of violence, on 8 Apr 2017. ETA is dissolved. Negative peace, by eliminating one violent party. There was much violence, doing bad things to each other. No more. Then what? Maybe doing good things to each other? Positive peace is about that. Military power eliminated, we are left with economic, political and cultural power. Positive peace means equity: economic, political and cultural cooperation for mutual and equal benefit. Economically, concretely that means more enterprises, companies, businesses with Basques cooperating with Castillans, and others.

Rato Finito: Spanish Citizens Send Most Corrupt Banker-Politician To Jail

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By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Michael Blesa, the president of Caja Madrid bank from 1996 to 2010, was sentenced to six years. Rato took over as President of Caja Madrid in 2010. The bank then merged with six other banks to form Bankia. In the sentencing in late February, Rato was found to have replicated the “corrupt system” established by Blesa. The politicians and banking executives are appealing the decision. The case indicts both the Spanish and international political financial systems. Rato was Spain’s Economy Minister between 1996 and 2004, working for Partido Popular, the same political party that orchestrated the bailout. He was later the Managing Director of the IMF, from 2004 to 2007, another body essential in coordinating the bank bailouts. He undertook these roles before spinning back through the revolving door into Spain’s banking industry.

Spain Sets Massive Precedent — Charges Its Central Bankers In Court

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By Claire Bernish for Activist Post – First, Iceland, and now Spain has taken on the Big Bankers responsible for financial calamity, as the country’s highest national court charged the former head of Spain’s central bank, a market regulator, and five other banking officials over a failed bank leading to the loss of millions of euros for smaller investors. This, of course, markedly departs from the mammoth taxpayer giveaway — commonly referred to as the bailout — approved by the U.S. government ostensibly to “save” the Big Banks and, albeit unstated, allow the enormous institutions to continue bilking customers without the slightest fear of penalty. Errant bankers and financiers, it would seem, typically manage to either evade actually being charged, or escape hefty fines and time behind bars. Spain’s Supreme Court last year ruled “serious inaccuracies” in information about the listing led investors to back Bankia in error, thus the bank has since paid out millions of euros in compensation.

Spain: Podemos At The Crossroads

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By Denis Rogatyuk for Green Left – The left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos is planning to hold its second country-wide citizens’ assembly (Vistalegre II) on February 11th-12th to decide the political direction, organisational structure and its electoral strategy for the next regional and general elections. In the last several months, tensions have risen between the two major figures within Podemos — Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejon, and their respective strategic visions of bring the organisation to power in the Spanish congress as the regional assemblies across the country. The party’s orientation towards state institutions (such as the mayoralties in Barcelona and Madrid), its relationship with the social movements